Down the homestretch of the regular season, the Portage girls swim team’s 400 freestyle relay has been nipping at the heels of the Warriors’ school record.
After finishing just three-tenths of a second back last week against Lodi/Wisconsin Heights, the team of senior Rakelle Schultz, freshmen Natalie Weidner and Lauren Macomber and junior Brooklyn Miller left no doubt Tuesday night.
The team shattered the previous mark by nearly 5 seconds, setting a new top time of 4 minutes, 26.14 seconds. The record was one of just a handful of highlights in the team’s 105-63 loss to Beaver Dam in a Badger North Conference dual meet at Rusch Elementary School.
“They realize that to get a record, it’s got to feel different. It’s got to kind of hurt in the moment,” Portage coach Tammy Tollefson said. “They’ve been dancing around that, and for them to take that many seconds off of it is incredible.”
Schultz and Weidner hung with the Golden Beavers top team to help to set the table for Macomber, who swam a 1:07 leg before turning things over to Miller. The 2017 state qualifier did the rest, busting out a 1:01:16 in her anchor leg to hammer things home.
“We kind of focused and Tammy talked to us after the last time we swam it and said that ‘Half a second is a tenth for all of you,” Miller said. “I was talking to them before the race: That’s a kick off the wall, that’s one less breath, it’s making sure your start is a little bit better. Those tiny little things are a tenth, it’s almost nothing, and we just reminded ourselves that we needed that one little thing to be different.”
“I just wanted to make sure I did my part and not let anyone down,” Macomber added.
While the 400 freestyle relay record sent the people home happy, Miller helped give the crowd something to cheer about just before the break as she set a new school record in the 50 freestyle. Swimming in the event for just the second time this season, Miller led wire to wire for a winning time of :28.83, besting the previous mark of :29.24 set by Tara Schumudlach in 2012.
Like the 400 freestyle relay, Miller, who also won the 100 backstroke in 1:12.87, said she stressed the small things in practice this week, while Tollefson added that having Macomber to train alongside her has been an added bonus.
Macomber rounded out the Warriors wins on Tuesday by taking first in the 200 individual medley. The freshman swam to a winning time of 2:47.43, while Weidner edged out Beaver Dam’s Liz Grenon to take second in 2:54.76.
“We’re freshmen, and you wouldn’t think these times are coming from us when we come in, but once we start swimming, we get somewhere and it’s pretty nice,” Weidner said.
As impressive of the records and wins were, they weren’t enough to help the Warriors drown out the Beavers. After Beaver Dam won the opening two events, including a sweep in the 200 freestyle, the Beavers took a 37-25 lead into the break.
Beaver Dam put things away coming out of the intermission by winning the first four events of the second half, including sweeps in both the 100 and 400 freestyles, to build a sizable 71-38 advantage and never looked back.
Despite the loss, Tollefson praised her team, including junior Rubie Kohn, who added second-place finishes in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. While the Warriors have been hurting down the stretch, Tollefson has been thrilled with the team’s hard work and persistence.
“For them to keep pushing, and realizing that it makes a difference, it’s resulted in these times and hopefully they feel that as the reward,” she said.
The girls are definitely noticing, including the 400 freestyle relay team. With it being her final season, Schultz said Tuesday’s record-setting performance was “pretty surreal” and she knows its energized the group’s pursuit of a trip to state.
“It’s definitely pumped us up,” she said. “We’re ready; we’re ready for conference, we’re ready for sectionals and we’re going to try for state.”
BEAVER DAM 105, PORTAGE 63
Winners and Portage results: 200 meter medley — 1 Beaver Dam, 2:18.83; 2, Portage (Miller, Macomber, Weidner), 2:21.56; 4, Portage (Copple, Andraschko, Moyotl, Muente), 2:53.55. 200 freestyle — 1, Kraus, BD, 2:44.03; 4, Copple, P, 2:53.09; 5, Moyotl, P, 2:54.83; 6, Muente, P, 3:47.85. 200 individual medley — 1, Macomber, P, 2:47.43; 2, Weidner, 2:54.52; 6, Aldridge, P, 3:27.18. 50 freestyle — 1, Miller, P, 28.83; 4, Macomber, 32.03. 100 butterfly — 1, L. Grenon, BD, 1:14.38; 2, Kohn, P, 1:21.13; 3, Weidner, 1:30.31; 6, Aldridge, P, 1:41.02. 100 freestyle — 1, McGauley, BD, 1:07.36; 4, Andraschko, P, 1:20.87. 400 freestyle — 1, Derrick, BD, 5:48.97; 4, Copple, P, 5:57.86; 6, Moyotl, 6:27.19. 200 freestyle relay — 1, Beaver Dam, 2:13.17; 2, Portage (Kohn, Routson, Aldridge, Andraschko), 2:19.74. 100 backstroke — 1, Miller, P, 1:12.87; 2, Kohn, P, 1:24.82; 6, Muente, P, 2:00.70. 100 breaststroke — 1, McGauley, BD, 1:27.20; 2, Andraschko, P, 1:34.89. 400 freestyle relay — 1, Portage (Schultz, Weidner, Macomber, Miller), 4:26.14; 4, Portage (Moyotl, Aldridge, Copple, Routson), 5:18.50.